Last year was a good year, but this year has to be better. Last year was filled with many great programs and activities, especially in the African American community. However, as great as these programs were, not very many were as successful as they should have been. There is a great need for more participation from the African American community, particularly Black males, in the programs that are done for us. Last year had a great start, just like the start of this year, with many new freshmen willing to get involved in our organizations. But hopefully unlike last year, this willingness will not die off as the year progresses, leading to too many empty seats in programs, and clubs suddenly searching for lost members. There needs to be a change from last year, more Black students need to be actively working in their own community.
I have heard many things said about my class, the class of 2011. Unfortunately, most of what is being said is none too positive. We have been called lazy, uninterested, and uninvolved. Even more unfortunate is the fact that, as a class, we are doing little to prove these accusations wrong. But I noticed last year that lack of participation is not unique to the class of 2011. This was evident at the annual Society of African American Culture Lecture, on Monday, March 31st 2008. The speaker was Earnest Green, the oldest member of the Little Rock Nine. This man is a piece of a very well known part of history, and a living testament to the Civil Rights Movement. The accomplishments of the Little Rock Nine are written down throughout many history books, and taught in history classes of any quality. Yet despite this, attendance at this event was painstakingly low, almost to the point of embarrassment. There was a shortage of people from all of the classes, not just 2011. Not to say that white people were not welcome to come, because the lecture was open to anybody that wanted to hear Mr. Green’s experience, but I was surprised to see that the number of white people at the program was comparable to the number of black people. This was surprising to me because even though African American history is also American history, Mr. Green’s experience is very specific to the struggles of black people.
It made me ask myself, “What is wrong with us? Are we just not interested in our own culture and history anymore?” It is understandable that some people had conflicts, such as class or a big test to study for, but most of us that were in the room are students, and we had work too. It’s hard to believe that so many people had conflicts, so I’m just going to go ahead and blame the absences on people being lazy, uninterested and uninvolved. Occurrences like this should not happen again.
Last Thursday, August 21st, was the annual Black Student Board Back to School Jam. This event showcased most of the clubs in the African American community, as well as performances by Greek organizations, dance teams, and modeling troupes. In my opinion, this event was a really great success, with the kind of interest and turnout that should be present at every event. As stated earlier this new freshman class has a lot of promise and enthusiasm. Many were asking about organizations and signing up for them. This is the kind of attitude that needs to be maintained during the year. It is important for freshmen, and students from other classes as well, to find organizations that match their interests and talents, and to stay active in them. It is important for students to be as enthused about other programs as they were for the Back to School Jam.
It is officially the start of a new school year. A new class of freshmen has arrived, and along with it are fresh attitudes and a lot of promise. Many organizations have new presidents and new ideas, and hopefully some dedicated new members as well. With all of this potential one can only hope that this excitement about the new year does not dwindle away, and is utilized to make the whole school year one to remember. As a community, we must be more involved in these events and in organizations in general. It is insulting to me what people are saying; that we are lazy and uninterested, but those accusations will not change if they are not being contradicted by our actions. Many of the members that were in these organizations last year have graduated. If more students do not step up and start participating I fear these organizations will eventually die. These clubs and facilities were placed here for us, and if we do not use them they will disappear. We cannot let our community get to this point. Now is the perfect time to step up to the plate. Many clubs are looking for new leaders, and are offering new positions on executive boards; some of these are even open to freshmen. So please, get involved in your own community and help it gain the strength of its potential.